If I was to be lost for years on a desert island and could pick an author to get me through those times, I would pick Charles Dickens. If I were to spend three miserable years in NYC, much of that time on hot (or cold) trains and crowded buses late at night and early in the morning, and if were to chose an author to help ward off anxiety and depression--that author would be Dickens. If I were to chose an author who's adapted works I loved to watch while eating Mexican food--yes, it's still Dickens. To this day, there is no author with whom I'd rather lose myself for hours on end.
The man was a genius. The complexity of his plots, the living reality of his characters are truly amazing, and his output was astonishing. In some ways, his novels are old fashioned now--very wordy, with lots of drawn out passages that don't advance the plot. But his characters are still masterpieces, and some of his plots are stunning.
This is the artist who gave us Miss Havisham and Madame DeFarge, Ebenezer Scrooge, and David Copperfield and Pickwick--on and on.
I have read every one of Dickens's novels (except Oliver Twist. I tried, but I can't. The musical is stuck in my mind and I keep thinking Dickens got it wrong because he left out the lyrics to the songs) and I keep going back to them.
I don't think anyone outside of my family has given me more hours of joy and edification, and no writer, next to Shakespeare, has had quite a large impact on the language and the field of literature.
Happy 200th birthday, Dickens! And thank you.
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